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A little Iraq News
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Only because it isn't quite the subject it once was in the MSM. Let us begin with Joltin' Joe Biden's assessment of the surge:
Amid reports that the U.S. military surge has helped to stabilize insurgent attacks in Baghdad and a recent Pew Research Center poll that found 48 percent of Americans now believe the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going well, up from 30 percent in February, Biden said, "This whole notion that the surge is working is fantasy.
From Fallujah via Michael Totten:
“The biggest thing we've got going for us is the surge,” said Lieutenant Edwards. “You've probably read about it or heard about it on television.”

“Yeah,” I said and laughed. I witnessed and covered the surge myself in July and August.

“Has it helped us?” he said. “Extremely. What we can do is we can go in, knock out the enemy forces, and still leave forces there to remain and hold security down. We can then take our own forces, develop the Iraqi forces so that they can hold their own spot, then we can move to another one.”

The Marines have an extra 1,000 troops in the Fallujah area this year, but they aren't in the city. There are far fewer Marines here now than there were.

“We went from having 3,000 Marines in the city last year to down around 300 now,” the lieutenant said. “Maybe 250.”

“So you didn't surge Marines into the city,” I said.

“No,” he said. “We surged Marines around Fallujah. We either capture and kill AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq], or they move out. If we don't kill or capture them, they move somewhere else. They avoid Fallujah now like it's the plague.”

“Even though there are only a tenth as many Marines?” I said. “Are they afraid of the Iraqis?”

“They're afraid of the Iraqis,” he said. “That's what's holding this place down. It's the citizens and the Iraqi forces. We're here as an overwatch in case something happens, but they're holding their own. They're holding their own security in the sense that if you fail, you fail your family and you fail your tribe. That's humiliating for them, and it is not going to happen.”
Now it's important that you read and understand the whole quote there because it makes a very important point. At a local and regional level, the Iraqis have again taken charge of their lives. While the Joe Biden's of the world will continue to hammer the lack of political success at a national level, to say that the surge isn't working is to ignore precisely what these Marines point out. But ignoring that sort of progress is a habit he and other Democrats seem to have mastered.

Not so, apparently, with many Americans, as Brian Faughnan points out referencing a recent Pew Poll:
Looking further ... there has been an 18 point swing in favor of the Iraq war since February. But a look at the poll data from November 2006 shows a swing of 32 points. That's because in that poll, just 32 percent said things in Iraq were going well, against 64 percent who said things were not. Today the figure is 48 to 48.

Similarly, support for a timetable for withdrawal has fallen dramatically—from 19 percent support in January to just 11 percent today. Remember that the next time a Democrat claims that the American people support their approach.

Another interesting finding: Americans increasingly believe that we are succeeding in preventing Iraq from being used as a base for terrorist attacks against the United States. In November 2006, respondents said by a margin of 39 to 49 that we were not: today, 51 percent say that we are—against just 36 percent who are skeptical. That's a 25 point swing in favor!

On preventing a civil war and defeating the insurgents, there are similarly huge shifts. Across the board, the data show a significant growth in confidence about how the war is being waged.
So you have to wonder how long Democrats can continue to play the "quagmire" card and retain any credibility?

Moving along, I was on a phone call today with a spokesman for the Iraqi government, Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh, talking about the recent Declaration of Principles issued jointly by the US and Iraqi governments which is, essentially, a starting point for negotiating normalized bi-lateral relations between the two countries. Of course one of the things Dr. Al-Dabbagh stressed is an on-going US military presence, but strictly to "train, equip and arm" the ISF. While he wouldn't commit to saying that no permanent presence for US troops was anticipated, he did say that there is absolutely no desire for such permanence among Iraqi leaders.

The NY Sun was even sunnier about it all:
The negotiations will bring to a formal conclusion the U.N. Chapter 7 Security Council involvement in the occupation and administration of Iraq, and are expected to reduce the number of American troops to about 50,000 troops permanently stationed there but largely confined to barracks, from the current 164,000 forces on active duty.

"The basic message here should be clear. Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own. That's very good news. But it won't have to stand alone," General Lute yesterday told reporters in the White House.
Again, I question the real "permanence" of our presence, but I think it is safe to say, we'll be there a long while. However, if the mission is training, not all of our troops (or even most) will be 'confined to barracks'.

But imagine a reduction to 50,000 troops during that time-frame (now till next November). Two things would happen. First:
Bringing the war to a close by the end of 2008 will ensure that the next president will face a fait accompli in Iraq, a fact that will further remove from the presidential election the Iraq war as an issue of contention.
It would also mean that Democrats would have to completly revamp their approach to said election. Why? Well because they've been successful in selling the Iraq War as the major issue of that election. In a November 19 Washington Post-ABC News Poll of only Democrats in Iowa (and primarily those who will vote in the cacus), 33% said Iraq was the dominant issue (see question 9). Health care came in second at 26% and jobs/economy third at 10%. Every other issue was in single digits (or, in the case of global warming, less than 1%).

So the type of success in Iraq that would see the possibility of 50,000 troops there by next November would radically change how Democrats would have to talk about the war and it's 'failure'. It would take a major talking point away from them (not to mention how Dems in Congress will be characterized given their numerous attempts to torpedo the effort) and certainly put a hurting on their national defense/national security credentials. Oh, sure, they'd still have health care, but it ain't Iraq, is it?
 
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In order to get this out of the way for our favorite naysayer:

Small steps, there Erb! Small steps.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell, you should know that no matter how successful Iraq is, the operation cannot possibly be a success. I mean, it showed there’s a limit to what our military can do (except that what it can do, it does very well), and that nation building doesn’t work (except where we actually did build a nation), and...and...and like that.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
SShiell, you should know that no matter how successful Iraq is, the operation cannot possibly be a success.
Darn, and I thought it was starting to go so well.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Meanwhile, journalists say the media is painting too rosey a picture of Iraq:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071128/ts_nm/iraq_usa_journalists_dc_1

I also find it repulsive that some are trying to make it seem like if we can just have stability in Iraq somehow the policy was OK or a ’success.’ That is dishonest, it’s trying to sweep under the rug the fact that all the expectations and hopes for the policy were wrong, and the damage done is immense (in political and human terms). It’s been a fiasco of the highest magntitude, an utter and complete failure. The Bush administration is doing a decent job now trying to clean up the mess, but it’s not like they can ever turn the policy into a success. That’s impossible. Saying it can be a success is like saying "well, we dropped the vase while moving it and it broke into pieces, but we cleaned up the mess and so we successfully transported the vase."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I guess, by that measure WWII wasn’t a success. What, with 2 atom bombs going off and millions of people dead.
Meanwhile, journalists say the media is painting too rosey a picture of Iraq:
And here I thought the military was worried about that too.

There will be other wars, other peace-keeping missions, more nation building, more occupations, more relief missions. We are learning valuable lessons from Iraq.

If we’ve learned anything from Iraq, it is that we need a military whose capabilities match the tasks we give them.
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Saying it can be a success is like saying "well, we dropped the vase while moving it and it broke into pieces, but we cleaned up the mess and so we successfully transported the vase."
Well, exactly when might it be a success?
If you mean the policy we used in 2003, gee....you’re presecient, way up here in 2007!

The old policies are gone, and new policies are being pursued.
Old leaders are gone, new ones in place, except for the one you like the very least, and that problem will be gone soon enough.

When the policies change your ’policy failed’ talk has to change too. You can’t keep hammering on whatever policy we used in 2003/2004/2005/2006 in 2007 if we’re no longer persuing the same policies.

That’s like saying the Red Sox wouldn’t win the World Series in 2007 because they didn’t have the right team to win it in 2001.

Times and things are a changing, the crowd has moved along, but you’re still standing on the corner of Quagmire and Rumsfeld, giving your same old speech.
While you’re at it, why not worry about Saddam not having any WMD, like that’s going to change anything at this point.
we cleaned up the mess
Well, yeah. And therein lies the problem with your crappy analogy. We CAN clean up the mess and get success too.

Oh, I know, decline, loss of world authority, unable to project power, price of oil, same old same old.

Bumps in the road.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
It’s been a fiasco of the highest magntitude, an utter and complete failure.
You need to look up the definition of "complete." If we accomplish some of our goals but not others, then the failure cannot possibly be complete. For instance Saddam Hussein is out of power and dead. Can’t be complete now. Lots of Al Qaeda extremists are dead too. And they’re discredited among a large Arab population. And the Iraqis are standing up as a free society. So at worst the war has been a partial failure or a Pyrric victory. But a complete failure? Never.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
That’s impossible.
I don’t think that means what you think it does.
but it’s not like they can ever turn the policy into a success.
So you say - again and again. Do you think that if you say it enough times it will become reality? And I say:

Small steps, there Erb! Small steps.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
And to reinforce the point, the following is an e-mail I just received from a friend just back in the world from the Sandbox:
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 12:00 PM
Subject: From Roger (Head of the 3/7 Brigade)

Hello everyone,

We got everyone out of Iraq and in Kuwait. Our lead company arrived back in 29 Palms last night. These next few days will mark the end of a remarkably successful deployment to Iraq. Unfortunately, the story is not being told in the mainstream press but we are winning the fight in Iraq decisively. The changes in Iraq are revolutionary—not incremental as some in the press are describing it! The population finally saw the terrorists for what they are and joind with the Marines to get rid of them.

We we arrived in April, the fighting was just wrapping up so many of the people were still very skeptical and very scared of the Marines. The city was destroyed by bombs, IED craters, and 4 years of anarchy. All of the city’s services were inoperable; there was no city government, no department of municipalities, and all of the city’s equipment had been destroyed or stolen. The police were a group of local men that decided they had had enough of the terrorists coming into there neighborhoods and killing people.

They stood with a small group of police that were extremely brave and the Marines to rid their area of the terrorists. They had no formal training, no uniforms, weapons... They did know that the commitment they made was for good and that if the terrorists returned, they would all be killed along with their families.

The Marines of 3/7 attacked these problems with enthusiasm, finesse, skill, and an unbelievable work ethic. The police were our first priority. We partnered with them in every station. In all cases, the Marines lived with them and became brothers with them. They did this will full knowledge that some of the police this year were fighting us last year. With maturity and professionalism they understood that if you are going to win a counter insurgency you will have to work with the enemy at some point to be successful.

They patrolled the streets with the police, built their checkpoints to our standards, protected their stations to our standards, reacted when they were in trouble... They ate most every meal with them, drank chai, smoked cigarettes until they were part of the family. The police were from the neighborhoods and once we won them over, winning the community was easy. We trained the police how to patrol like Marines, act like Marines, stand post like Marines, collect evidence, treat detainees, and take care of their equipment like Marines. Also, we were able to get the rule of law reestablished in the city. The new Iraqi judges emerged and their system of district attorneys and courts emerged and became the standard. We mentored them through this process which was difficult most of the time. By the time we left, the police were doing most of the work themselves. Their intelligence network is amazing, yielding terrorists nearly everyday that were trying to get back into the city.

The city’s services were our other big area of focus. We saw the lack of services as a gap that if left unresolved, would lead to a reemergence of the terrorists. During our deployment, we saw terrorists groups try to emerge as "aid" organizations to try to beat us and the Iraqi government at providing for the people. Fortunately the people saw these attempts for what they were and did away with them.

The mess was beyond comprehension. All the fire trucks were gone and the stations looted. All the trash trucks were gone and the trash was piled all over the streets from 4 years of neglect. The sewage flowed in the streets; many streets were literally knee high in sewage water. The hospital had no doctors, no power, and patients were uncared for. The water system did not work and where it did it was not-potable. The power lines were down all over the city, transformers were shot up, power stations looted... Again the Marines of 3/7 rose to the occasion and attacked these problems like it was their own homes and neighborhoods. Fortunately, we were empowered with a great deal of money and we completed 350 projects to fix these issues. We spent millions of dollars and made remarkable progress to "stop the bleeding in the above areas." Once we had the bleeding stopped, we turned our attention to developing the city’s capacity. We worked in each area of the city’s services to not only fix the problem, but also to leave a lasting capacity to maintain the progress we made. Although there is still much work to be done in these areas, all of the above services improved significantly as did the attitude of the population. We also did a number of large employment programs, small business grants, and vocational training programs that gave the people real opportunity and jump-started the economy.

The combined effects of what the Marines did were remarkable and truly awe inspiring. They became one with the communities they lived in. They were referred to as Sheiks by the people. By the end of our deployment, the Marines had become the most respected institution in Ramadi. As we left, there were parties, feasts, and many tears. This movement in Iraq is grass roots, genuine, and runs through every aspect of society. We know that this movement is solid across Anbar and has spread to Baghdad and other areas. Even with nearly 1,000 Marines deeply deployed into a large Iraqi city, we were blessed on this deployment not to suffer a single casualty.

The Marines of the Battalion clearly demonstrated their will to get the mission accomplished regardless of what is required. In addition to what I discussed, it is still a very dynamic and remarkably complex situation. The Marines distinguished themselves each day during many high stress missions: capturing terrorists, finding enemy cache’, patrolling endlessly, and manning thousand of logistics support missions.

I feel very blessed to command such a group of men who are loved, missed, and supported by remarkable families at home.

Semper Fi
Roger
You can quote Sanchez or Murtha or Biden or Kerry or Kennedy or Durbin or Pelosi or Reid all you want there Erb. I’ll take the word of someone who has just come back fom the box.
It’s been a fiasco of the highest magntitude, an utter and complete failure.
Failure? Outside of giving some poor schmuck an F for being stupid enough to take a course offered by you, you do not know the meaning of the word.

 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Every time Joe Biden says anything, I wonder if it’s him or that brain surgery talking.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Remember when I said there might have to be new elections before a consensus is reached, especially as there are new political forces emerging in Iraq?

I read somewhere that the current elected officials in Iraq are trying to hold off on elections for just that reason.

I don’t now about the Iraqi constitution but they probably can’t do that forever.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
"Meanwhile, journalists say the media is painting too rosey a picture of Iraq:"

Does anyone else see the humor and incoherence in this sentence?


F**k the policy, it sure seems that life is getting better for the Iraqi people. Isn’t that the goal? I really don’t care if some ’policy’ succeeds or fails as long as the Iraqi people can go to the store without getting kidnapped or murdered. I’ll bet they feel the same way, so you keep worrying about the ’policy’, we’ll worry about the people.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Does anyone else see the humor and incoherence in this sentence?
I don’t know, aside from bloggers, I always thought journalists made up a good segment of the media.
I mean, otherwise, who are they journaling for, and how are they getting their ’journal’ out there.
If not for the media, they’re not journalists, they’re diarists.

Oh well, I keep having to re-learn english.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Wow, so now Scott’s scrambling and talking about journalistic integrity rather than admitting that there’s real success.

It’s like some cartoon version of the Ostrich.

 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
About 20 years ago, I was a member of the US Chess Federation and played rated games. One game I recall was against a player rated some 200+ points higher than I was.

The beginning was even, but I got careless and blundered my queen; I think I got a bishop in exchange, but I was much worse off because of my mistake. I didn’t resign, though, and got a little material back later on. Some 20 moves after my blunder and still trailing in material, I had my opponent’s king on the run, and he stepped right into a trap where I checkmated him with a rook & knight.

Was my game a disaster? Had you asked me the move after I lost my queen, I would have agreed. It’s easy to go back over the game and show that I could have made better moves. But in the long run, no, it was not a disaster. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a success.
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Wow, so now Scott’s scrambling and talking about journalistic integrity rather than admitting that there’s real success.
What’s not being explained, is, how, in an oncoming election year, a press that has been less than enthusiastic about our presence in Iraq for a couple of years is now suddenly carrying water for the Republican Administration.
How does that work?
What, the ’media’ had a bikini beach barf party during the summer and Rove got pictures before he resigned?
Seriously, what’s happened, other than actual success, that would cause the media to suddenly start telling a different story about Iraq?

But then again, Chicken Little only had that one phrase as I recall, maybe this is something of that nature.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I also find it repulsive that some are trying to make it seem like if we can just have stability in Iraq somehow the policy was OK or a ’success.’ That is dishonest, it’s trying to sweep under the rug the fact that all the expectations and hopes for the policy were wrong, and the damage done is immense (in political and human terms). It’s been a fiasco of the highest magntitude, an utter and complete failure. The Bush administration is doing a decent job now trying to clean up the mess, but it’s not like they can ever turn the policy into a success. That’s impossible. Saying it can be a success is like saying "well, we dropped the vase while moving it and it broke into pieces, but we cleaned up the mess and so we successfully transported the vase."
WTF are you talking about?

Is Scott off his meds?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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